We continue our forum on Christian Historian and Social Media–for earlier pieces, see here, here, and here.
Today we have the remarks of the final contributor, Baylor graduate student Paul Putz.
Paul has posted his comments to his blog.
I highly recommend you check it out. Paul brought down the house at our session with his thoughtful remarks. John Fea captured some of that sentiment with this tweet:
Read the entire piece, but I especially appreciated Paul’s evocation of how care for others can actually be enacted through social media:
In his book To Change the World, James Davison Hunter has words of wisdom related to this idea. In the book, Hunter articulates his vision for a model of Christian social engagement that he terms “faithful presence.” For Hunter, faithful presence is “a theology of commitment and promise…a binding obligation manifested in the relationships we have, in the work we do, and in the social worlds we inhabit, and it is all oriented toward the flourishing of the world around us.”
The online world might not be the place that Hunter envisions “faithful presence” being enacted. For Hunter, faithful presence requires one’s engagement in a particular place. It is a corrective to the ephemeral connections, dislocation, and fragmentation that comes along with our digitized age. Yet, I think Hunter is off the mark a bit in suggesting or implying that there is an incompatibility between the online world and offline world. While Christian historians should very much be committed to participating with others in their neighborhoods, local churches, and communities, the world online also offers ways for historians to carry out Hunter’s suggestions to “use the space they live in for the flourishing of others.” For example, Christian historians might find ways to link their online and offline worlds, using their time and services online for the benefit of their offline community. Scholars might take up digital history projects meant to protect and preserve the history of local organizations. Or, since historians will undoubtedly have members of their local community among their online followers, they might use their platform to promote local history-related events. If one’s neighbors, fellow churchgoers, and fellow city-dwellers participate online, then Christians scholars should view the internet as another way to share in the lives of those with whom they already share a particular place.